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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3287..

Tuesday, 3 August 2004

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional owners, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Presentation of mace

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Members, at the 35th Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference, held in Melbourne on 9 July 2004, I had the pleasure of receiving on behalf of the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory the Assembly's new mace, which was a gift from the Australian region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I express to all presiding officers present the Assembly's appreciation of this significant gift.

By now members would have had the opportunity to view the mace which, when not in use, will be permanently displayed near the members' entrance. The mace has a stainless steel spine shaped with a Y-section representing Canberra's distinctive urban design, the Y-plan. The spine is enclosed in yellow box timber, which was salvaged locally, and has been decorated with images of the ACT's floral emblem, Wahlenbergia gloriosa.

The mace is fairly hefty; it weighs about 8.5 kilograms; and it gives a new import to any Speaker's request for the Sergeant-at-Arms to take the member out! The mace was designed and manufactured by Design Craft, a local design and fitout company, which has done a magnificent job of this lasting symbol of parliamentary democracy, in consultation, and through me, with the administration and procedure committee over the last 12 months. A local craftsman, Mr Miles Gostelow, beautifully carved the Wahlenbergia gloriosa design into the timber. I believe this mace successfully embodies the authority of the Speaker with the modern forward-looking feel of today's ACT Legislative Assembly.

I will finish with a note of caution. This mace is a symbol of the authority of the Speaker and, through him, the authority of the parliament. It is an impressive and appropriate symbol, but it is not a magic wand. You will have noticed that the sergeant has been kitted out with gloves. That is not because, if the bare skin touches the mace, there is an electric shock or some other mysterious happening; it is merely preventative maintenance, because the mace will be around longer than all of us, and I suspect even longer than the clerks at the table.

As I said, the mace is just a symbol. It can only ever be representative of the trappings of this place; it cannot replace the true spirit of this Assembly and our democracy. That spirit rests within each of us and with our commitment to serve the people of the Australian Capital Territory. If we ever make the mistake of becoming obsessed with the trappings of democracy we will risk degrading the very parliamentary authority that this mace purports to symbolise.

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